Yahoo is rolling out some changes to its search results pages, with a new three-column design that highlights Yahoo apps, related searches, and more filtering options.
The changes are being tested with a random set of Yahoo users, and are expected to roll out to all users later this year.
In the left-hand column of Yahoo's search results, users will be presented with results filtering options. These include links to searches on related concepts, the ability to limit results to those from Yahoo pages or other third-party sites, or filtering results based on type of content.
Yahoo has also made some enhancements to Search Assist, the well-received query-refinement technology launched in 2007. Search Assist refines queries by providing related topics as searchers type to assist them in finding the right search term that will deliver the most relevant information. Some of the "related concepts" data from Search Assist is also being exposed in the left-hand column, and Search Assist is also being added to search boxes elsewhere on Yahoo's network.
It may seem surprising to see Yahoo rolling out search updates after it announced last month that it was getting out of the search business. There are two answers to this question. The first is that these technologies have been in the works since before the deal was made, so it only makes sense to see them through.
Besides that, Yahoo has said it will continue to innovate in the user interface part of search, even when it begins using Bing's index and results. These changes would fall into that category, Yahoo hopes they will provide a way of differentiating it from Bing.
Yahoo also updated its Mail and Messenger applications. Among those changes are moves to make Yahoo Mail more intertwined with social media. Users will be able to see what their friends and family are sharing online in various social media sites, right from their Yahoo Mail inbox.